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Sex differences in striatal dopamine D2/D3 receptor availability in smokers and non-smokers

  • Amira K. Brown (a1) (a2), Mark A. Mandelkern (a2) (a3), Judah Farahi (a2), Chelsea Robertson (a4), Dara G. Ghahremani (a1), Brittany Sumerel (a1), Nathasha Moallem (a1) and Edythe D. London (a1) (a4) (a5)...

In previous research, nicotine-dependent men exhibited lower putamen D2/D3 dopamine-receptor availability than non-smokers (Fehr et al.2008), but parallel assessments were not performed in women. Women and men (19 light smokers, 18 non-smokers) were tested for differences due to sex and smoking in striatal D2/D3 dopamine-receptor availability, using positron emission tomography with [18F]fallypride. Receptor availability was determined using a reference region method, in striatal volumes and in whole-brain, voxel-wise analysis. Significant sex×smoking interactions were observed in the caudate nuclei and putamen. Post-hoc t tests showed that male smokers had significantly lower D2/D3 dopamine-receptor availability than female smokers (−17% caudate, −21% putamen) and male non-smokers (−15% caudate, −16% putamen). Female smokers did not differ from non-smokers. Whole-brain analysis demonstrated no statistically significant voxels or clusters. These results suggest that low receptor availability may confer vulnerability to nicotine dependence or that smoking selectively affects D2/D3 receptor down-regulation in men but not women.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: E. D. London, Ph.D., UCLA Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Sciences, 760 Westwood Plaza, Rm. C8-831, Los Angeles, CA 90045, USA. Tel.: (310)825-0606Fax: 310-825-0812Email:
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The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology
  • ISSN: 1461-1457
  • EISSN: 1469-5111
  • URL: /core/journals/the-international-journal-of-neuropsychopharmacology
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